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I use Twitter a lot and have for a while now. I get asked all the time “So what’s this Twitter thing? Why do people find it so interesting?” Over time, I’ve been keeping a text document of the different things I end up telling people in an effort to condense it down to a simple explanation that still gives them enough information to really sink their teeth into Twitter. Here is what I have come up with so far. If you have additional suggestions, I would love to hear about them.

  • It’s like chat, but the entire world sees what you say. Sort of like mini-blogging (messages have a 140 character limit).
  • On Twitter.com, you can set up your cell phone so you can text in a twitter update (I do that).
  • You can reply to somebody’s post by doing the ampersand sign and their handle (like “@molaro that was funny!”).
  • You can send them a direct message which is seen only by you and them by starting with a “d” in front (so like “d @molaro thx for your reply”).
  • For me, the easiest thing is to use the free version of Twitterrific, a Mac only desktop application. Otherwise, if I had to go to the web page I would never update my status.
  • For Windows people, I know that “Spaz” and “Twirl” are good. I think Twirl is better. They are both Adobe AIR apps that allow you to twitter from the desktop. In all these apps, you’ll see the messages sent to you and that you send.
  • You can “follow” other people to see their messages as well. As for following, you get odd people following you. Now a lot of spammers. I usually only follow people I know or people from the area, or people who follow other people in my “cloud” (group of friends).
  • It’s a good way to meet people in my work field. Take a look at Wayne Sutton or Ginny from the Blog. Watch what they do and check out who they follow. That’ll get you going.
  • Other sites, like BrightKite.com let you update where you’re at by passing in an address or location name. (there are tons of little sites like these)
  • Lastly, there are “service” twitter accounts. I set one up for my local Adobe Users group (http://twitter.com/rdaug). Those basically just broadcast updates. Ours posts whenever our RSS updates. I have seen weather accounts, traffic accounts, bars, and political candidates.
    • I also follow &STS124 which is the NASA feed to the current space station mission. They tweet live info about the space walks and stuff.
    • On a similar vein, I follow &MarsPhoenix which is info from the Mars rover. Play-by-plays of what it’s doing.
    • @BarackObama will get you updates of what he’s up to
    • @Timer lets you pass in a message and minutes, and then it will send you that message back in those about of minutes (a reminder tool)
    • @MYNC_WX_Durham is durham local weather
    • Follow @Twitter for updates on the system and outage/service notices

Personally, I also follow lots of industry gurus. People’s who’s books I own or Adobe big shots and stuff like that. Also, follow former co-workers. Stuff that’s interesting to me.

So that’s my soapbox on Twitter.

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